Research in the Immunopathology Section focuses on the biological mediators and signal transduction pathways involved in the modulation of human monocyte and lymphocyte functions that may contribute to the immunopathology associated with various inflammatory lesions. Monocytes/macrophages are prominent in many inflammatory diseases, such as periodontal disease, rheumatiod arthritis, atherosclerosis, and cancer. The pathology associated with these diseases involves alterations in the integrity of the connective tissue framework implicating a role for matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs). MMPs are comprised of a family of zinc dependent endopeptidases divided into major subgroups that include the interstitial collagenases, the gelatinases, stromelysins, membrane type MMPs and others. Collectively these enzymes are capable of degrading all the extracellular matrix components. Because MMPs and tissue inhibitors of MMPs (TIMPs) are believed to play a major role in the destruction and remodeling of connective tissue, a major emphasis has been placed on how these enzymes and inhibitors are regulated in the human monocyte/macrophage as well as in the reciprocal interaction between monocytes/macrophages and tumor cells. Current research has continued to focus on the signaling pathways in cytokine stimulated monocytes that leads to the production of MMPs. These findings have demonstrated an interaction between glycogen synthase kinase (GSK-3) and mitogen activated kinases in the regulation of MMP-1 in human monocytes. It is hoped that this new information will provide a better understanding of the signaling process in monocytes as it relates to therapeutic intervention in preventing the pathology associated with chronic inflammatory lesions.

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National Institute of Dental & Craniofacial Research
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